Family / School

No Name Calling Week: January 20-24

Two of my favorite organizations, prescription Seroquel Groundspark and GLSEN, are up to something I’m a huge proponent of: celebrating kindness. No Name-Calling Week is happening January 20 through 24th. And one of the great things about it is that you’ll have a precious opportunity to access two of Groundspark’s documentary films for free: Let’s Get Real and Straightlaced: How Gender’s Got Us All Tied Up.  If you’re in a leadership position at your kids’ school or community- or faith-based organization, or even just you’re in good with folks who are, you should really consider scheduling a screening for either a group of young people or their educators and caregivers.


Why? Name-calling is an issue in absolutely every school. Here are some facts from GLSEN (sources: their study of elementary school climate and secondary school climate):

Among elementary school students…  

  • 75% say that students at their school are called names, made fun of, or bullied on a regular basis.
  • 51% regularly hear other students make comments like “retard” or “spaz.”
  • 46% regularly hear other students say things like “that’s so gay” or “you’re so gay.”

It appears that the name-calling and teasing that happens in elementary schools serves as a foundation for how students treat each other in secondary school. Name-calling and harassment continue as students get older.

Among middle and high school students…

  • 64% say that name-calling, bullying, or harassment is a serious problem at their school.
  • 68% say that students are regularly called names, bullied, or harassed at school because of their appearance or body size.
  • 60% regularly see their peers called names, bullied, or harassed because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation.

Thousands of schools participate in No Name-Calling Week, and GLSEN has corralled many useful ideas and resources to help prod and inspire you and your fellow kindness-celebrators as you brainstorm how to take advantage of this opportunity in your school or organization. Here, for example, are a few ideas from 10 Simple ways to Celebrate No Name-Calling Week in Your School:

  • Write an article for the school newspaper
  • Create a library display
  • Discuss sportsmanship in P.E. classes
  • Take a Name-Calling survey in your school (here’s theirs)
  • Conduct NNCW lessons (they’ve got lesson plans for elementary, middle, and high schools)

For those who don’t know them already: Groundspark  produces award-winning documentary films and powerful educational campaigns in the service of social justice generally. Areas of particular focus include safe schools and communities for all young people, education around family diversity, raising awareness about and combatting bias-related bullying, and opening up understanding around gender diversity.

Let’s Get Real, one of the films that will be available for free screening later this month, is made for students grades 5 through 9, as well as all educators and PTA/ parent groups working with them: it addresses name-calling and bullying. Straightlaced is for kids middle school and up, and explores how all youth, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, are deeply affected by homophobia and gender pressures. Others of their landmark documentaries include That’s a Family (about family diversity), and It’s Elementary (for educators, about talking about gay issues in early education),  My kids sat at the edge of the couch when we first watched That’s a Family together. And yes, I bought the DVD, I am that much of a LGBT family educational resource geek.

Every Groundspark film is driven by stories told by people, young people in particular, and every one is accompanied by an extremely well-designed curriculum guide. Let’s Get Real’s guide, for example, is a whopping 130 pages and includes lesson plans, discussion starters, classroom activities, and handouts for teachers to use in conjunction with the film.

GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network has been working since 1990 to improve school safety and inclusiveness for LGBT students. Not an easy task, given how skittish so many folks still are about even talking about gay people or gay issues or the pejorative use of the word “gay.”

So! Any time is a great time to foster compassion and understanding, and to give our kids and their educators and caregivers tools to help do so. But a whole national week just makes it all that much more fun.  Any of you have stories you can share about doing stuff like this in your schools? Anyone doing something for No Name-Calling Week this year?



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